Friday, January 11, 2013

"The (Catfish) Shack..."

I slipped away on Tuesday.  I realized... and it was confirmed several times... I was depleted and needed to be ALONE… to release, rest, and refill.  Well, I say, “alone” but I was with the Lord and… with my beloved bundle of fluffy goodness… my dog... Dusty.   As I write this, he continues to bring me his ball and lay it at my feet!  Such a love.

As I drove into the town of my little retreat and was thinking about my time here, I noticed my husband’s truck was almost on empty.  I already knew what I wanted for dinner.  Catfish.  There is this little place, actually, it is a gas station with a restaurant inside, and it has wonderful catfish served with the perfect fries, cole slaw, and a corn muffin!  I love to tell people my favorite place to eat in this town is the gas station!  So I was trying to decide whether or not to go to the house first and then back out to the gas station or go on to the gas station first and fill the truck up and get my catfish.  It is funny how often these little moments of decisions have such an impact on life moments… God moments.

It was later in the afternoon so I decided to go on to the gas station.  It was a GREAT decision.  I decided that once I got the house, I wanted to hole up and not come out again until time to leave!

I was standing at the gas pump when this older man came out of the station.  “That’s a good looking pooch you got there in that truck,” he said to me.  In a split second, I had to gauge how I was going to respond.  Do you know that second of thought... where you are trying to decide?  Is this a friendly man?  Is he trying to start conversation?  Is he a weirdo?  Should I just smile, say thanks and turn away?  I mean, let’s be honest.  As a woman, at a gas station, if a man tries to start conversation with me… those questions rush through my mind.  So I decided he was old, looked friendly, liked my dog, and I would engage.  So I stepped around the pump to see him better and replied, “Yes sir... he sure is... thank you.”

“Did you see my little fella in my truck,” he asked.  I stepped around even further and sure enough, there was the CUTEST puppy in his truck, standing up on the back of the seat, looking out at his Pa.  It was a Schnauzer baby... much like this one.  Of course, I ooohed and aaahed like the crazy dog lover I am and our conversation… and God’s appointment for me… unfolded.

He wore clothes that were far less than new-looking.   He had on work gloves that he had cut the fingers off of and his fingers looked well worn.  And his smile… his smile was so sweet and genuine and kind… I wanted to hug him.

He went on to tell me he had been a dog trainer for over 40 years and that he was always amazed at how smart they were… how much they could learn.  He told me about a 14 year old Jack Russell he had to put to sleep last year.  With tears ever so slightly glimmering in his eyes, he said, “I have lived a long life, I spent years in Vietnam, was shot at, poisoned… and worse… and I just kinda shook it off.  But my girl got brain cancer and I had to put her down.   I am not ashamed to tell ya… and if anyone wants to say anything about it… let em… but I sobbed.  I mean…  I didn’t just boo hoo, I sobbed… every day… until there was just nothing left.  I just cried it all out.”

He’d been looking off into the horizon when he told me most of it, and then he turned and looked me deep in the eyes… with the tears still glimmering.  I reached out and took his arm and told him I knew that pain all too well and I shared my story of having to put down my sweet Schnauzer... little Lodie.

He then told me how his Jack Russell had saved his life.  She’d stumbled across a copperhead snake just in front of him and she pounced on it.  He said she got it right behind the head, shook it like crazy and it tore all apart.  “It’s guts went a-flyin everywhere,” were his exact words.  The thing he was most amazed about was the fact that even after she’d killed it, she would not let him get close to the dead body.  He said every time he tried to reach down to pick it up, she’d grab it and take it to the other end of the yard.  She still wanted to protect him.  And he just smiled and shook his head at the remembering of it.

“Isn’t it amazing how God puts that kind of knowledge and love and wisdom into an animal,” I offered.  “Yes.  Yes, it is,” he replied and went on to tell me about how God had used the donkey to speak to a man in the Bible who didn’t want to listen to Him!  Neither one of us could remember the poor fellow's name.  But we laughed together and agreed that we both thought if an animal spoke to us, we’d pretty much listen to it too!

There we stood.  Outside.  In the cold.  At a gas station.  In this sweet little moment.  Two strangers.  Yet so alike in this love of our dogs.  And there our dogs sat, in our trucks, watching us.
And then he said it, as he turned to walk back to his truck.  “Ma'am, if you are a praying lady, maybe you could remember this ole man in your prayers.”

Something shifted.  “What is your name?” I asked.  “Bill,” he answered.  “So nice to meet you, Bill,” and we shook hands.  “My name is Dawn and it just so happens I have come to town to be alone with God for a few days.  And I am a prayin' woman and I will pray for you, Bill,” I replied.  A big smile came across his face and he gave me a sweet southern gentleman’s, “Well, thank ya.” And then he turned to walk to his truck.

I told him I needed to go in and order some catfish for my dinner and he snapped his fingers and shook his head and said he’d ordered some and was about to go off and forget it.  He went to move his truck from the pump and I went inside… running over with thankfulness for such a sweet moment with such a sweet man.

I went to the ladies room first to pee ALONE! (If you read one of my last posts you’ll know that is a TREAT!)  When I came out, I picked up my to-go order and started to walk out.  Bill was standing there and said, “Hey, you said you came here to be with the Lord…”  I nodded yes with a smile and he continued, “I want to leave you with this… that’s good company.  It is the best company.  The company of the Lord.”

“Yes it is,” I agreed.  “And I have not had enough of it lately,” I added.  “He also says what you ask of Him, to ask with faith… believing.  Not like some of these people who don’t really believe.  You got to really believe,” he added. 

Yes.  He was so right.  And this stranger just spoke the very words I needed to hear.  

I had just spoken days earlier, that I wanted to quit.  To stop believing.  That believing was too hard when the answers just didn't come.  It was too hard when the silence from above weighed me down.  It was just too hard when my daughter jerked and moaned in a horrible seizure... again and again and again.  It was just too hard when I prayed and prayed and prayed and... "nothing".  I continue to fail.  Fail at displaying fruit of the Spirit.  Fail at being the mom He wants to me to be.  Fail at being the wife He wants me to be.  Fail at making Him a priority.  Fail in trusting.  Fail in praising.  Fail in abiding.  Fail at this... this life... this one life.  It was just too hard.

And THAT was why I slipped away.  I knew if I wanted to quit, the enemy was at my jugular and I had to get into the throne room of God.  I had to find quiet.  I had to find Him.  I had to hear Him.  I had to drink from His fountain.

I was smacked.  

I could just not stop looking at him with thankfulness.  The Lord had just used this sweet vessel to speak to my heart… in a time of great need of being reminded that He means what He says and I HAVE to believe… I HAVE TO BELIEVE no matter what is going on around me.  No matter what I SEE… No matter what it looks like...  no matter what I feel... NO MATTER WHAT!

He smiled and moved forward to get his food.  “Have a great night, Bill,” I replied.  “You have a good stay Dawn," he answered with that smile.

And I walked out.

I was so struck with the whole thing as I drove away. 

I could have missed it.

Had I gone to the house first… to turn on the water, and the heat, to pee, and to get settled in… I would have missed it.  I would have missed him.  I would have missed Him.  And how sad would have that been?

Moments of decision.  When I was trying to decide what to do on the way into town… my heart told me to go to the gas station.  The Holy Spirit whispering.  And I am so glad I listened and obeyed.
As I write this, I am sad I didn’t hug him.  I don’t think I did.  Did I at the end?  I can’t remember clearly.  But I think I did not.  And I think I should have.  

So I close my eyes, and I hug sweet Bill, with his sweet puppy, and his precious heart… and the encouragement of the LORD he blessed me with.  How I hope I run into him again at that little catfish place in the gas station of this little tiny town of my retreat.  And I praise my God for being so living and so active and so, so sweet… He amazes me with HIMSELF so very often.

Who might God send to speak to you?  Have you ever met a "Bill"?  Let's pray to always be open to hear and see that appointment... and to let His love unfold!  I don't want to miss a single one.

Be blessed this weekend.
Much love, Dawn~

Post Edit:  Would you like to meet some other amazing women who seek God and grace in the everyday?

Go HERE... and be blessed!


  1. Anonymous11:55 AM

    I felt the sting of tears in my eyes as I read about your feelings of "failure". SO THERE lately. Thank you for sharing. I need some alone time with the Lord desperately right now, too....please pray that I get it. Love you bunches! -Jennifer

    1. You are not alone. I see this theme among mothers and it breaks my heart. It is straight from the enemy to take us down. If we fall to his lies, our entire family and life is affected. Time alone with the Lord is SO essential for refilling. I know what that time has done for me and I MUST remember it and make it happen... regularly! Be encouraged. And steal some time for yourself... with Him.

    2. Anonymous2:55 PM

      We went to Winter Jam last night....and had time alone with God....amidst 13,000 of my closest friends! HAHA Seriously though, I felt like it was just me and God in that arena, and He spoke to my heart over and over again. He reminded that I had asked for refreshing and time with Him as I stood there with tears pouring down my cheeks and my hands raised in gratitude. Beautiful! -Jennifer P.S. If you haven't heard it, check out the song I posted on Facebook (Hello, My Name Matthew West). Really spoke to what I wrote that comment to you about, and it touched my heart immensely.

  2. Anonymous12:14 PM

    What a beautiful time you had. I must say, I have read this post a few times... reading, thinking, reading, pondering and it was exactly what I needed to read. I have not been able to recharge in so long, and have felt like I am failing in all aspects of my life (mom, wife, friend, life) -- I so need to just sit and BE -- Be still and let God help.
    erin a

    1. I am blessed beyond blessed this spoke to you... that He whispered to you in it. I think in our hearts we KNOW what we need to do... it can be just SO hard to make it happen. But we have to... we HAVE to... especially as mothers and wives. "Be". That is a good word.
      Hugs to you friend. Be encouraged.

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Dawn, it's so cool how God works through his spirit, through others--their timely words. I'll be praying that you get that time to listen to what else He has to say.

    1. Thank you Rachel. I look forward to sharing what else unfolded during that time. God filled me for sure with His assurance and wonderful reminders... especially on faith. His sweetness overwhelmed me. His intimacy ALWAYS does.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!